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#BRINGBACKOURGIRLS: 100 DAYS – THE NIGERIAN CITIZEN WILL NOT BE SILENCED July 22, 2014

Posted by seunfakze in Uncategorized.
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Wednesday, July 23rd will mark 100 days since 276 girls were savagely abducted from their school in Chibok, Borno State. 57 escaped and 219 remain in captivity. The families and community have suffered deep anguish seeking effective rescue to end the peril that befell their daughters who had gone to school in search of knowledge.

In those 100 days, the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign has focused on creating awareness of the abduction to ensure that it is a priority issue requiring action and compelling the right sets of action for a positive outcome. We have engaged various stakeholders – the Presidency, the National Assembly, the office of the National Security Adviser, the Chief of Defense Staff, the Borno State Government & other State Governments, ECOWAS member countries and UN agencies to name a few.


Through our various meetings, our singular message has been to demand that the Federal Government perform its fundamental duty of ensuring the security and the welfare of its citizens. As we denounce the wave of terror and insecurity across the country, we continue to demand that the Federal Government deploy its resources to ensure that the missing girls are brought home, and the errors leading from three-weeks of delayed action are remedied.

Citizens who have insisted on standing with our girls and ensuring they are not forgotten are heartbroken that our daughters and sisters are about to spend 100 days with their evil captors.
To amplify our voices in demanding that these girls be brought home now and alive, on the 100th day, there will be a variety of activities around the world. These include:
• Ibadan: Press Conference at the BRECAN Centre at 10 am

• Abuja: Special sit-out ceremony at the Unity Fountain at 3 pm

• Lagos: Remembrance service at the Wall of Missing Girls at Falomo Roundabout at 4pm
• New York: Candlelight vigil at the Nigerian Consulate at 5.30pm.
There will also be events in India, Pakistan, the UK and most world capitals where there are teachers’ organisations in partnership with the UN Special Envoy’s Office of Gordon Brown. Organisations participating are World at School, Girls not Brides, Global March Against Child Labour, Walk Free, Educational International and ITa.

The continued pattern of intolerance to the activities of the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign is at variance with our effort to promote healthy civic engagement by citizens to strengthen the resolve of government to rescue the girls.

As days become weeks and months and our girls are separated from their parents and their community, our singular focus remains on their safe return in the shortest possible time.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Signed:
Hadiza Bala Usman, Abuja
Oby Ezekwesili, Abuja
Aisha Oyebode, Lagos
Yemisi Ransome-Kuti, Lagos
Betty Anyanwy-Akeredolu, Ibadan
Amina Hanga, Kano
Eleanor Ann Nwadinobi, Enugu

#BRINGBACKOURGIRLS: DEMEANING THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT July 16, 2014

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, MORALITY.
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Dear Mr President,

I am compelled to write given the recent spate of attacks and spurious statements by your media aides and security operatives alleging the hijack of the BringBackOurGirls movement – a citizens collective effort to stay vigilant on the kidnapped girls. I belong to this movement in my capacity as a citizen of Nigeria, and I feel deeply insulted that some of your aides have either acted in their own capacity or succeeded in misleading you through deliberate misinformation about the movement.

Last week, Ms Marilyn Ogar, in her characteristic manner, called this movement a franchise; a statement which I consider highly derogatory and unsavoury. Unfortunately, she cast serious aspersions on the integrity of those who constitute the movement in Nigeria and worldwide. The leadership of the Abuja chapter of the movement has clearly disproved these allegations but I keep wondering why you allow such untold misrepresentation to go on under your watch.

Only recently, precisely 15th July, 2014; one of your senior media aides Dr. Doyin Okupe alleged that Ms Obiageli Ezekwesili instigated the families of the kidnapped girls from attending the meeting you scheduled, whom you had only recently deemed fit to meet after 92 days.  I am quite sure Ms Ezekwesili, who remains one Nigerian with incorruptible integrity and who desperately wants these girls rescued, will never resort to such act as portrayed by Dr Okupe. Moreover Mr President, history bears witness that it took you 3 weeks before you acknowledged these atrocious kidnap; and all of us are aware of the arrest that befell members of the movement after the scheduled meeting they had with your wife, the First Lady of Nigeria, Mrs Patience Jonathan. Personally, it is not far-fetched why they will ignore your meeting: the precedence of denial, intimation and arrests of members of the movement is telling.

I find it utterly disrespectful that consistently, Dr. Okupe’s characteristic name-calling, character assassination and pedestrian outbursts keep mocking the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The letter, which was widely distributed in the media, was attributed to have been written by you; but I am certain the person of the President of Nigeria will never write such.Whatever the grievances Dr. Okupe has with Ms Ezekwesili, the office of the President should not be reduced to such dance of shame in the media. Honestly, I keep wondering how you will allow yourself and your noble office to be such ridiculed by such dramatis personae as aides.

Regardless of the constant attack and publicity strategy of the establishment to frustrate, derail and divide us; we stay strong and committed to demanding that the girls be brought back alive. I am aware of the complexities that may be involved in securing the release of these girls, which consequently may have prevented an open and transparent citizens interaction. However, the fact that we disagree with the secrecy involved in the attempts at rescuing these girls that does not give any of your aides the right to castigate us and demean our persons using all of the channels of manipulations it has.

Mr. President, you swore an oath to the security and welfare of the Nigerian people. Not only have you consistently failed in this regard, but Nigeria’s security incompetence during these trying times have occurred despite appropriating the highest resource in the budget to security (about N3tn in 3 years). Mr. President, based on the sustained captivity of the past three months following these girls kidnap, based on the insecurity challenges of the past years under your watch; no other institution of government has terrorized Nigerians psychologically than the Federal Government of Nigeria.

 

 

ANOTHER FLASH IN THE PAN? @MedviewAirlines July 12, 2014

Posted by seunfakze in MOTIVATION.
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The first time I heard about Medview Airline was Wednesday 9th July, 2014. My return flight had been booked for an EbonyLife TV event in Lagos. My first reactions were of disbelief and fear, ones which are not totally different from Nigerians who either have a regular airline or those who have experienced constant disappointments from Nigerian airlines with peculiar penchant for not keeping to time. Besides, owing to my slight phobia for flying, I was a bit disappointed I would not be using my accustomed airline but trying another one. I shrugged off my fears, packed my bags and prepared for my trip the following day.

Thursday. I arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport 2 hours before time, and checked in. It was a bit comforting to see my brother Japheth Omojuwa at the airport; apparently we travelled for the same event and we were booked on the same flight. Having missed each other for months, we quickly settled in to serious discussions about our society and the huge challenge before our generation. Our flight was scheduled for 9am, and the airline surprisingly announced our boarding on time.

By 9am, we were on our way to Lagos, refreshment was light but tasted good. We arrived as scheduled in the flight details. We went for our event, finished and left for the airport for our 5pm return flight to Abuja. By 4:30pm, exhausted, hungry and definitely looking forward to the snacks served while airborne; we were checked in and we waited patiently for the 5pm flight. This is where the problem started.

The 5pm flight was delayed for 45 minutes, which left us a bit worried. It is understandable when we had other engagements in Abuja, and besides; we were seriously hungry. By 5:45pm, another announcement explained “Medview flight to Abuja has been delayed for another 45 minutes”. At this point, Japheth and I decided we would get some food before we die of hunger. We left for KFC, met some friends over lunch and chatted about 30 minutes away. Before this, we realized there was a Medview plane around and wondered why we were not boarding already.

On our way back in, we noticed some angry voices from the Medview stand and so we made an approach. We found confusing messages from apparently distraught passengers “the flight had been cancelled” “the flight has been rescheduled” “funds will be refunded”. Since we could not get an official information from the airline, I quickly sent out tweets asking friends for a link to Medview Airlines. I got responses and quickly sent tweets to the airline. I was pleasantly surprised to see the response from the airline within minutes where they reassured us the delay was due to technical challenges with the available plane. Many passengers threatened fire and brimstone whilst others asked for a refund as they had appointments. Only one pressured for and got a refund, others waited.

By 7pm, we were told and promised that the other plane would arrive by 8pm. However, to my utter surprise, (as this is not customary with similar Nigerian airlines with delay peculiarities), we were all taken to a restaurant where passengers were treated to sumptuous meals. Mixed feelings. Japheth and I had just had lunch some 2 hours earlier, but we took time and had some drinks with snails. (smiles).

As scheduled, the plane arrived by 8pm wherein we were informed and consequently prepared to board. By 8:40pm, we were all on board and the flying crew took turns in apologizing about the hitch and delay caused. My interview with other passengers revealed that Medview ALWAYS fly as scheduled and that they, as regular customers, were surprised of the disappointing delay they experienced that day. Online commentaries also revealed the same opinion about Medview. Although this is peculiar with airlines commencing new services in Nigeria, I hoped that Medview airlines would actually set out to make a serious difference in the aviation industry where constant disappointments with scheduled flights and bad customer service was a normal thing. The following day, they checked up on me and apologized again for the delayed flight; whilst appealing to me to always “fly with us”.

As someone who had experienced serious delays from Nigerian airlines (with my worst with Aero contractors which took me to Lagos around 1:30am for a 5pm flight), I was pleasantly surprised at the professional disposition, and responsive customer service relation from Medview Airlines. It will be totally unjust not to write about my experience with Medview Airlines. I do hope this attitude will continue for a long time and perhaps help build their brand as a reliable airline to always fly with.

Time will totally justify Medview Airlines – if truly this is a new beginning to  a sustained customer friendly service or just another flash in the pan.

John Kayode Fayemi – Spearheading Ekiti’s Renaissance July 12, 2014

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
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It is easy to wear the deportment of detachment when Ekiti State is mentioned. Well, that used to be the state synonymous with pandemonium and violence; and until recently very bad road networks and stunted growth. Home to about 2.6million Nigerians, Ekiti state is located deep in the heart of Western Nigeria, a hilly state (from where its name is reputedly derived) and is home to some of the nation’s most prominent and eminent Professors.

It is humus ground for rumour mongering as well as active political awareness amongst citizens. Ekiti citizens know their rights, always have a point to prove, always have a say; and their political sagacity cannot be underestimated. In other words, they are politically opinionated and socially republican. Besides, historically, you will do well to remember that the sweeping tide of 1966 and the downward turn of Nigeria began in 1964 during the Omoboriowo crises of Ijero (then in Old Ondo State).

Ekiti State has passed through years of turbulence. That is no longer news. Any avid follower of the political terrain in Ekiti State will easily recount the number of Governors (elected and imposed) and Administrators that have since occupied the exalted leading position since its creation as a state in 1996. What is not news too, is the years of economic pillage and erosion of values that has confounded the state, and in turn worsened the social value fabric that once stood the state up as an ideal model of respect, love for elders, industry, amongst many others.

It is my duty to visit my state every quarter, an act much necessitated by my parents living in my country home. During these days, I take time to go around the communities and see firsthand the travails and experience under democratic rule. On these visitations, I have been engrossed with stories of unfulfilled promises by politicians (as is usual in Nigeria) and frustrations amidst growing apathy amongst the citizenry. It seems, after all, that settling with under-performing leaders seem to be the new turn in our democratic dispensation.

Year after year, I have seen deplorable roads; abandoned projects (sometimes from previous administrations), sub-standard white elephant projects, and above all, grand-scale cover up of corrupt practices. As a young Nigerian with deep interest in policy research, advocacy and social entrepreneurship, I became attracted to the administration of Dr. Fayemi (whom I found a breath of fresh air given his civil society foundations, political meteoric rise to leadership and undoubtedly his academic background).

However, my love for advancing development across Nigerian communities led me to criticizing him heavily in his first year of leading the ship in Ekiti State. It seemed there were several stumbling blocks towards development in those early days under Kayode Fayemi and my generation, being in haste, spared no effort at pointing them out in their colours and shades. The traffic delays caused by rocks being blasted while travelling the then Ifaki-Ado road during construction, and the lethargic handling of the road caused me much anguish and I spared no words in describing the administration of Kayode Fayemi as “slow, much unfocussed, and a leadership committed unfortunately to another set of construction jamborees”.

I am aware how long it may take a State as landlocked as Ekiti, and as cash-restrained to advance in the path of development as seen in other developed communities. My difficulties in understanding the mind of such a visionary as Kayode Fayemi was also compounded in the fact that he is not a showman who advertises what he does. After being frustrated with the hooliganism which Mr. Ayo Fayose’s administration heralded, I feared the worst in 2011 and most of 2012; thinking Dr. Fayemi was much disconnected with the travails of the common man in the state. I was wrong. I was invited to Ekiti state. My online vituperations, having caught the eyes of some of Dr Fayemi’s team, heralded my first visit to the state in 2013.

I got the ROADMAP TO EKITI RECOVERY, and began a tour of the state to verify the claims made by the administration. Ekiti state is taunted as having the most open and accessible leadership. I have that verified. Not only was I able to visit commissioners and query their policies, decision-making processes and projects; but I was given free access to take pictures, make my criticisms without any sense of trepidation or harassment. It is naturally difficult to have your say at “Men In Power” in Nigeria, especially where sycophancy and hero worship reigns supreme. Unlike previous administrations too, he completed the projects left over by the administration of Gov. Segun Oni.

It takes a visionary to understand that leading a poor state out of the doldrums require more than paying monthly salaries (which take an estimated 87% of monthly revenue) and drinking Alomo bitters by the roadside. Borrowing N25bn altogether from the stock market is not only commendable, the systematic monthly deductions towards repaying the loan has enabled the state pay about 60% of the total bond sourced from the stock market. Detractors are quick to point at this borrowing, but anyone adept at development will know it is a no-brainer.

That Dr. Kayode Fayemi is a visionary is no longer news to most of those who know him or those who have been unbiased in assessing his style of leadership. I had a 19 _ minute critical discussion with him around 2am and I must confess he is an amazing workaholic. It is admirable to see Nigeria still has men of sterling qualities in leadership especially one whose monthly allocation remains the 35th (out of 36 states in Nigeria. I have visited the roads, the hospitals have been refurbished (never touched in 18 years), the educational institutions wear new looks & new infrastructures where necessary, I have seen the ICT revolutions in Ekiti (which was foremost in Nigeria and quite unknown unlike Opon Imo), the tourism revolution, the revived industries (previously abandoned), the social welfare scheme, amongst many others.

Were the re-election to be based on compelling issues and critical reasoning alone, Dr. Fayemi would not have to campaign. Unfortunately, Nigerian politics currently run on propaganda and populism. Were he a populist, there are no reasons Ekiti people, and indeed the world should not be aware that Ekiti State operated and sustained the first ICT revolution in schools in Nigeria, nor are there reasons why the Ire Burnt Bricks factory’s revival and expected ROIs should not be much taunted; nor the world class tourist center at Ikogosi Warm Spring Resort much publicized; the Legacy projects, the unveiling plans to make Ekiti the “Bangalore of Africa” amongst many amazing projects.It was under Fayemi that I discovered that construction companies do have bonds with banks that require them to repair roads within a specified timeframe if such roads have cracks/flaws else the bonds can be revoked.

Commendable improvements under Fayemi include the social welfare scheme for elders, the revival of the Ire Burnt brick Factory (which will have an estimated N1bn yearly ROI), the massive agricultural projects (YCAD), the transparent spending mechanism (FoI, FRA) and several gender empowerment laws. There is huge disconnect of information amongst the citizenry in Ekiti. This should not be. This would all have made it easy for Governor Fayemi not to stress himself too much on reelection. Nevertheless, I can appreciate his reticence and his complete focus on the job while also taking into consideration the wear such PR efforts may take on the small budget Ekiti has.

The dream of EKITI RECOVERY towards “MAKING POVERTY HISTORY” is a laudable dream that cannot be realized in just 4 years of administration. If we must be honest, we need a sustained, completely competent team who understands what it requires to make this dream a reality at the helm of our affairs. This is why Ekiti state must never return to the hands of Alibaba and his thieves no matter the cost.This is why Ekiti sons and daughters, at home and abroad, must unite and do whatever is required, by all means possible to sustain the mandate of Dr. Kayode Fayemi.

It will be disastrous to think that Ekiti state will find such peace, clarity of purpose, openness, transparent spending, and visionary leadership under Mr. Ayo Fayose – the much-touted spendthrift of Ekiti Politics regardless of whatever claim of repentance he may have. Governor Kayode Fayemi gives me hope, gives Ekiti State hope, and I daresay Nigeria as a whole. Going by Nigerian standards and expectations, there is no reason a state with such low income/revenue should have such advanced development like Ekiti does. States with much succulent income have no excuse for less! JKF, as he is now popularly called, revalidates my new found hope that social critics and civil society activists can combine ideological principles and idealistic leanings with the maneuverings that politics bring. June 21 will remain, for a time to come, the most memorable day in the history of Ekiti State when we eventually re-elect Dr. Fayemi, thereby sustaining the vision and pride of the South West region, and of Nigeria as a whole. That is my hope in this present democratic practice we are wading through.

7th June, 2014

#BRINGBACKOURGIRLS – Between missing girls and inefficient leadership by @seunfakze May 3, 2014

Posted by seunfakze in Uncategorized.
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#BRINGBACKOURGIRLS

Day 19 since over 200+ girls were abducted by insurgents from Chibok

Today is Day 4 of our protest in Abuja. Each day of this gathering brings together new scenes of crying mothers and renewed passion to keep the pressure on till the girls are brought back. Yesterday night, to the chagrin of many Nigerians, Mr President announced, much so after 18 days of deafening silence from the Presidency, the formation of a committee to look into the over 200+ missing girls from Chibok.

Before this new development, We were repeatedly witnessing the unfortunate process that has characterized this presidency. Every day, since the abduction of these girls. Mr President dilly-dallied, danced away, partied, unconcerned about the welfare and security of these young future leaders. An uncaring leadership has unfortunately been the order of the day in Nigeria.

Our protest on Wednesday, with over 600 participants in the rain, brought brilliant results: we met with the Senate President David Mark, his deputy, the House of Representatives Leader Tambuwal and his deputy who pleaded with us and acknowledged their unfortunately lethargic steps in rescuing the girls. He promised swift action in meeting with the President as regards the issue.

While fortunate to hear firsthand the open and accountable efforts of the NSA at close quarters yesterday, I am shocked and scared at how unprepared we are as a nation to salvage the nation from terror groups and insurgents despite the humongous budgetary allocation appropriated for security. Repeatedly, we have budgeted different but huge amounts for security with no commensurate outcomes (N922bn in 2012, N1trillion in 2013, and N845bn in 2014).

Although I eventually got no response asides the blank stares, I asked the NSA repeatedly yesterday, amongst other questions, why there was no transparent accountability on how the budget was being expended and why repeated mentions of the armed forces’ incapacitation and non-preparedness seemed prominent.

Mr President has declared war on the citizenry by his silence, lack of concern at the expense of looking good in front of International circles in the upcoming WEFA conference (World Ecomomic Forum Africa) between 7-9 May, 2014. This i he is insistent on going ahead with despite the fact that daily, our 200+ girls live in unsafe territories amidst unpleasant situations. News of them being married off (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-2616778/Abducted-girls-married-Nigerian-rebels.html) were yesterday confirmed at our meeting by Senator Zana representing Borno Central.

Seeing that the National Assembly is uninterested (personal observation) in seeking the rescue of these children much as it is interested in other trivial issues; it behoves on us to remember their inconsistency, lack of concern and apparent disregard for issues that are most pertinent in our minds. It is crucial that we vote out all those who have proven absolutely irresponsible and incapable of representing our collective interests in the forthcoming elections.

The future of our nation lies in the hands of its brilliant young and the remaining bloc of patriotic elders, who are willing to voice out against growing social injustice and the wicked silence of our political elite. Today, as it has been since 2007, we are reaping the consequences of bad succession (from president Obasanjo), bad choice of the electorate and the unfortunate complicity of the electoral commission.

As we resume the protests for our missing girls, this is a reminder to you, my friends, the electorates; why YOUR VOTE IN 2015 in electing a competent, capable and empathetic leader is essential to rebuilding the lost years of our great nation. Nigeria is doomed without competent, effective and caring leadership.

NIGERIA BELONGS TO ALL OF US

Oluwaseun Fakuade
t: @seunfakze
e: seunfakze@yahoo.com

THE PRESIDENCY’S JAMBOREE BUDGET by Nasir @elrufai February 28, 2014

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, EDUCATION, POLITICS.
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The year 2014 is already off to a dramatic start with allegations of massive fraud to the tune of about $20 billion (N3.6 trillion) being leveled against the NNPC for failure to remit oil revenue earnings for a period of 19 months. As soon as the revelations gained traction, the governor of the Central Bank was illegally removed, and as usual whenever Jonathan’s government is under pressure, the wanton killings of Nigerians escalated in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.

Boko Haram and President Jonathan seem to be working in unison to ensure attention is diverted from the administration whenever massive cases of corruption are revealed. We saw this with the fuel subsidy protests of January 2012 and several other instances since then. Let us mourn our dead, grieve over the murder of our innocent children, but never lose track of the clear link between Jonathanian theft and the insecurity our nation suffers.

Back to the diversion of federation oil revenues: Under whose watch did the $20 billion disappear and into whose accounts have they gone? Should a government that claims to have the interest of its citizens at heart so brazenly loot public funds? Does the average person know the intricacies of how the budget is appropriated? These are questions that must command the interest of Nigerians as yet another cycle of wasteful spending unfolds.

In seeking answers to the above questions and in line with our tradition of annual budget analyses, we will begin 2014 with an assessment of the Presidency’s allocations. The Presidency has allocations of about N108.2bn. It includes the State House (N33.4bn), the offices of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (N63.2bn) and Head of Civil Service of the Federation (N11.6bn). Indeed, the offices of the National Security Adviser, the Independent Corrupt Practices, Salaries and Wages, Sports and Planning Commissions – and all federal executive bodies can be considered part of the Presidency, though under separate budget sub-heads.

This week, we will look at the ‘Presidency – State House’, while the offices of the SGF and Head of Civil Service will be examined in ensuing weeks. The State House is an important budget subhead that overlooks 14 agencies, some of which are central to Nigeria’s anti-corruption, transparency and disaster preparedness.

In 2013, the Presidency – State House supervised 11 MDAs. This fiscal year, two new operation departments have been created, confirming that this administration is only interested in increasing the size of its already bloated bureaucracy. As the current budget proposal shows, government seems to have cemented a policy that allows wasteful proposals and a very heavy recurrent allocation.

In 2014, the Presidency would spend N33,406,722,566 or 0.7% of the federal budget. On the surface, the amount would represent a decrease of 10.3% or N3, 855,660,039 when compared to the N37, 262,882,605 that it got in 2013. Of this sum, N12.7bn or 38.3% of the budget is apportioned to personnel costs or staff salaries in 10 Departments and agencies under the Presidency. N12.2bn would is for maintaining existing structures and people, effectively bringing the recurrent budget to N25, 016,720,760 or 74.8%. In other words, contrary to the government’s promise to bring down the recurrent budget, it is quietly, but consistently increasing it.

Capital provisions for the Presidency this year would be N8, 390,001,806 or 25.2% of the total budget. There is a reduction in the capital budget of about 41.8% from the N14.4bn 2013 figures. With provisions like these, what immediately becomes clear is that the 2014 budget is a budget of salaries, traveling, tea and coffee for the privileged few that would in no way guarantee any real progress or help Nigerians redress growing poverty and destitution.

Total allocations across agencies reveal the following: State House HQ 26.1%, State House Operations (P) 8.9%, State House Operations (VP) 1.3%, National Boundary Commission 1.9%, Border Communities Development Agency 1.2%, Office of the Special Assistant MDG’s 0.5%, NIPPS, 4.3%, Bureau of Public Enterprises 6.7%, National Emergency Management Agency 3.8%, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission 30.6% and the Bureau of Public Procurement 3.8%.

Similarly, NEITI has 3.3%, National Atomic Energy Commission 6.6% and the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser to the President 0.4% of the total MDA budget. As is evident from the above, the highest allocation of 36.3% goes to the State House alone whose only responsibility is catering to the President and his largely ‘missing-in-action’ deputy.

Analyzing the capital budget further, it becomes clear that this government is insincere in its fight against corruption. How can it justify the allocation of N3.7bn or 44.5% of the Presidency’s total capital allocation to the State House and a paltry N1.4bn or 16.8% to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission? It is even more pathetic when one considers that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) gets a miserly 4% or N339m allocation for capital expenditure in the 2014 fiscal year.

The budgetary provisions can be seen in clearer perspective if you consider that the State House intends to amongst others, spend its capital allocations on building and furnishing guest houses, purchasing vehicles and buses, procuring sauna baths, massage beds and renovating horse stables while the BPP, NEITI, EFCC and NEMA, all agencies which render essential anti-corruption and disaster management services get fractions of its allocation. A closer look at EFCC will suffice to illustrate the sorry state of affairs.

Beyond a shortage of funds, the EFCC faces the challenges of a legal system that grinds slowly and unsurely, resulting in prolonged litigation and outright loss of cases due to poor investigation and evidence gathering. This reality should ordinarily lead to increased funding for legal services under the commission, but President Jonathan simply cannot be bothered.

In 2014, the EFCC would get N283.6m for the services of lawyers and for prosecuting financial crimes. While this is an increase over the 2013 allocation of N100m, it is a classic example of perverse prioritization when you consider that the State House intends to spend N320.2m on honorarium and sitting allowances alone and N267.7m on welfare packages while EFCC has difficulties paying for legal services. NEITI which is the transparency watchdog of the oil industry with less than N70m for capital projects is similarly constrained, while NNPC diverts $20bn without appropriation!

As concerned Nigerians, we should ask important questions like: if the fight against corruption is sincere, why does the State House get an allocation for sitting allowances that is higher than the legal services allocation of the EFCC or NEITI’s capital budget? Why does the Presidency also think that welfare package for a few State House employees is more important than the oil revenue transparency and anti-corruption drive, assuming it can be called that?

To use the NEMA as another example, with Nigeria’s insecurity issues, threats of global warming, flooding and other unforeseen disasters, why is the agency not getting higher allocation for research and development? Instead, nowhere in its paltry N339m capital provision is there a line item for this kind of contingencies. The consequences could be unpreparedness for disasters which would only lead to an increase in the number of internally displaced Nigerians.

Even if the contingency budget under the service-wide vote is resorted to, the time-lag in accessing it and then complying with the provisions of the Public procurement Act 2007 would hamper the operations of NEMA and impact the timeliness of its response to disasters. Even more bothersome is the fact that for both local and international training in 2014, the agency would get some N60.6m, while at N173.3m the State House would get almost thrice that amount for refreshment and feeding alone.

Zoologist or not, President Jonathan must be living on another planet to assume that he is responsible for wildlife conservation and animals, when more than 70% of Nigerians live in abject poverty, insecurity and inequality. How else can one explain spending N100m in tax payers’ funds on wildlife conservation and animals in the fiscal year 2013 and in the 2014 budget proposal? Does Nigeria still have a ministry of environment?

To put this in proper context, in 2013, the Villa spent N7.5m on wildlife conservation and intends to spend N37.5m in 2014 on the same purpose.  Upgrading and maintaining the State House zoo would cost Nigerian tax payers some N8m. The renovation of stables cost N7.5m in 2013 and would set the nation back some N15m in the current fiscal year. In addition to all these, we would spend a generous N14.5m for the purchase of two very lucky animals.

Almost every item in the Presidency’s budget proposal redefines the term ‘wasteful’. For instance, there is a provision of N1.5bn for the upgrade of facilities, but the proposal cleverly leaves out details of the facilities to be upgraded. If the budget is finalized as it is, the government would spend N23.7m on the purchase of laundry equipment, N50m on the reconstruction of perimeter fence and gate house for the state house and N310.5m on vehicles purchase. Most ridiculous is the spending of N218.3m on generator fuel. The Presidency should simply get connected to the national grid and experience the much touted ‘improvement’ in power supply if it believes its own fairy tales.

Misappropriation of public funds should not be treated with such levity if there is going to be a more even distribution of national income and if there is any hope of closing the wide gap between the rich and poor in Nigeria. The populace must not fall for the deliberate distraction tactics of this government whenever their failures manifest. Public accountability must be paramount on the minds of those vying for political office as well as the electorate. The $20bn diverted must be accounted for in full to the 36 states and the FCT as well as the 774 local governments that make up our federation. We must demand accountability and insist on it.

The government – beginning with the Presidency – needs to urgently reduce wasteful spending by trimming unnecessary costs and eliminating wasteful provisions to free up funds for investments in human and physical infrastructure. The Presidency should set standard for probity and sensible spending. Unfortunately, the Presidency’s current budget proposal shows no indication of any real progress or positive change, only the jamboree mentality that has become a hallmark of Jonathan’s government.

FESTUS IYAYI: A TRIBUTE by Salihu Lukman @smlukman November 14, 2013

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Festus Iyayi: A Tribute

Salihu Moh. Lukman

The name Festus Iyayi symbolizes struggle for academic freedom, democratization of our educational system, national development and socialism. He was the President of Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) in the 1980s and in 1987, under his leadership; the Babangida administration banned ASUU, terminated the employment of Prof. Iyayi from University of Benin and subsequently arrested, detained and tortured him.

It is to the credit of Prof. Iyayi and ASUU leadership that ASUU survived those repressive measures and is operating based on its founding principles. Most organizations, even when they survive hardly are able to make any claims to values.

No doubt, the 1980s was a defining period for popular organizations in Nigeria. It was a period that the Federal Government under the military virtually declared a war against freedom to organize and to that extent declared leaders of organizations as subversives.

In the circumstance, organizations like ASUU, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) faced direct attacks especially under military rule between1984 and 1999. During this period, these organizations were banned severallyand the leadership persecuted, victimized, arrested and detained without trials for months.

Laws were promulgated by government to justify these and in some cases, these laws besides coming with ouster clauses that disqualify our courts from entertaining cases bordering on enforcement of fundamental rights of victims (most of whom are leaders of these organizations), they in some cases even face charges of life and death sentences.

Without any questions, the capacity of organizations to survive those dark periods was challenged and leaders likelate Dr. Mahmud Tukur, Prof. Iyayi, Prof. Attahiru Jega, Alh. Hassan Sumonu,Alh. Ali Ciroma, Comrades Wahab Goodluck, Dapo Fatogun, late Chris Abashi, Lanre Arogundade, Hilkiya Bubajoda, Emma Ezeazu and many others were illustrious in their contributions.

ASUU provided the intellectual foundation for the radical orientation of these organizations to resist and outlive military rule. Sadly, NANS is way distant from its radical nationalist orientation of the 1980s. NLC live in virtually its old glory. Both for NANS and NLC, values may just be limited to bearing a “Comrade” title with hardly any meaning.

More than any organization, ASUU has remained consistent and was able to grow a community of leaders with organic links to wider society. Unlike NLC and NANS, the community of leaders in ASUU have till today sustained ASUU’s organizational focus, orientation and commitment to broader values of national development, which has underpinned its demands and struggles over the years. In the Nigerian context, ASUU is one of the few nongovernmental organizations that has been consistent and in many respect still linked to all its leadership since it was founded.

It was this link that explains Prof. Iyayi’s role and why he was traveling for ASUU NEC meeting on the fateful day, Tuesday, November 12 and lost his life. The pain of Iyayi’s loss has made many of us to ask questions that are at best immaterial. Of course, for many whoonly know Prof. Iyayi remotely, their response reflect a confusion of what may happen to the expected suspension of the three months old ASUU strike.

For those us who were privileged to know Prof. Iyayi, I am not sure any word can convey our feeling. It is a feeling that border on admiration, respect and obedience. I was privileged to serve as NANS President 1988/89 at a time when Students’ Unions were banned in almost all tertiary institutions in the country.

In July 1988 when we were elected, our primary mandate was the re-activation of Students’ Union structures in the country. In the face of repressive measures, a team of more than 20 students leaders from all over the country was basically reduced to a team of four. The first person that resigned from that Exco was the NANS Secretary whose father being a Deputy Commissioner of Police was threatened.

For many of us, it was a period that exposed us to the fact that there are Nigerians that have broken all barriers and risen above all primordial sentiments. These Nigerians related with us in very special ways. Although not older than their children, they discussed every issue with us with respect, treated us like their peers, which in many respects challenged our intellect. In the process, we had good access to academic literature.

Prof. Iyayi, the community of intellectuals in ASUU, patriotic leaders of NLC and other Nigerians really made us who we are today. Without the support of these people, many of us who grow through the ranks of the student movement would have simply evaporated into the confused Nigerian society that recognizes no skill or talent.

Unfortunately, some of us who are privileged to find themselves in the corridors of power forget this fact. Agood example was the way Labaran Maku, current Minister of Information, described Dr. Dipo Fashina as a “character” during the January 2012 fuel subsidy strike. This was to say the least an uncharitable statement coming from Labaran who was a product of the sacrifices of people like Iyayi and Dipo. As brothers and comrades, we have a responsibility to be brutally frank to each other.

Part of the calamity that has befallen us is the fact that we made very stupid mistakes on account of which some of our best are today serving one of the worst governments produced in this country. I am certain this will be contested largely on opportunistic grounds. However, I can accept that at the end of it all the basis of all justifications is simply our stupid mistakes of not engaging the Abdulsalami transition programme in1998 in an organized way. On account of this mistake, people like Labaran have taken individual decisions and may have forgotten their own history.

This highlight a strong disconnect between those of us who have passed through the mentorship of people like Iyayi. One cannot but salute the capacity of that old community of leaders that include Prof. Iyayi, Dr. Fashina, Prof. Olorode, Alh. Sumonu, etc. Somehow,these leaders must be going through traumatizing experiences of having to absorb all these shocks and continue to provide unwavering leadership in the struggles for Nigeria’s development.

Part of the criticism against ASUU is the fact that it has only one weapon of fighting bad governance and dictatorship. That weapon is STRIKE. Under democracy, there are other weapons, which include lobbying National Assembly. Of course, given the realities facing us, it islegitimate to have low confidence with respect to outcomes of engagement with National Assembly. There is also the fact that strikes have worked very well for ASUU. Since the early 1990s, all ASUU strikes have succeeded in terms of winning demands. In some ways therefore, ASUU and its leadership are only responding instinctively.

Perhaps, we need to find ways of engaging some of our leaders and mentors such that they are challenged to act more logically and scientifically. I have no direct answers with respect to this but I believe that strike, especially the current one, may not be the best logical and scientific answer to the problem of breach of contractual agreement. There are certainly other solutions. The best tribute we can give to Prof. Iyayi is for us all as a nation to commit ourselves to finding all the options at our disposal to address the problem of irresponsible conducts of our governments and leaders.

Prof. Iyayi would have been very much alive with us today but for the irresponsible conduct of our federal government to breach the agreement it willfully entered into with ASUU. On account of that breach, unquantifiable amount of resources have been wasted, including loss of lives. The loss of Prof. Iyayi is the high point. May it be the turning point such that as a people we are able to commit ourselves to rescuing this country? May the death of Prof. Iyayi awaken all of us to the need to discover new ways and methods of solving all our societal problems especially those created by the irresponsible conducts of our governments and leaders. Finally, may thedeath of Prof. Iyayi serve as the watershed in the struggle for higher education in the country such that strikes become the remotest of weapons and least employed?

Rest in peace Prof. Festus Iyayi!

RELIGIOUS PILGRIMS OR PLUNDERERS!? By ‘Seun Fakuade October 15, 2013

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, MORALITY.
Tags: , , , ,
4 comments

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There are many rules to being apathetic in Nigeria. There are many issues that will draw the ire of sycophants and ethno-religious intolerants when you speak in Nigeria. I will state two of these:
– Do not speak about anything as regarding the government (the establishment), if you must; only say something positive about everything they do
– Do not talk about a religion in any way
Today, non-traditionally, these two will be the centre of my discourse. If you are religiously intolerant, or pro-establishment; this May be a good place to close this article.

You are probably wondering: how much is the fund allocated for religious pilgrimage by the Nigerian state in the 2013 budget? It is N1,800,000,000: precisely $1,090,909 (about $1.1m). I get it, why should we bother right? We must be worried because there is no loophole we should allow in justifying waste of public resources or allow to expropriate our public funds. Concerned citizens must not be wary about asking their leaders to come clean about every detail on how public funds are spent. Every kobo accounted for!

The Nigerian state has no business funding religious expeditions, it has no right categorizing nor has any justification secluding other religions from such ‘gift’. As a secular state, Nigeria has no right to restrict pilgrimage to Christianity and Islam alone. What about other religions? Today, many political thugs and criminals have become the beneficiaries of such government propaganda. In all the years Nigerian representatives have journeyed to the Holy lands! what has been Nigeria’s benefit: more poverty, crime, dropped educational standards, terrorism, more divisions!

Religious tourism to the holy grounds are no solutions to the myriad of problems confronting the Nigerian government. Every President in this nation has, by one way or the other, lent credence to this religious rite. At what cost to the Nigerian people? By all means, I do not trivialize the role of religion: it is the last bastion of hope, of survival, of belief, of expression; for countless millions. Certainly, The creator will, by no means, justify the plunder that goes on while professing to carry on his business.

CORRUPTION
Nigeria is shrouded in secrecy even though it makes claims at transparent spending. What steps have been made to explain in open terms how N1,800,000,000 was and will be expended on religious pilgrimages in 2013? None so far. Without restraints, without caution, Nigeria continually waste resources by Unjustifiably funding religious voyages. In the recent Mo Ibrahim good governance ranking, Nigeria polled 41 out of 52 (moibrahimfoundation.org/nigeria/).

Mo Ibrahim, whose foundation rewards African leaders on the indices of good governance and responsible leadership with $5m, only recently stated no winners for the fourth time in seven years. Why would any African leader want $5m from Mo Ibrahim when it steals (by all means possible) hundred times this amount? Malabu, like many other corruption cases in Nigeria, shows how African leadership justifies and loots from the people using conduits. How many people benefit from the lootocratic sleaze of this pilgrimage? What exact estacodes (foreign currency) comes to each person?

Imagine the estacodes that accrue to each entourage of the President, or each pilgrim benefiting from the largesse! The President, through his attack organs, consistently refutes claim about his entourage by the media. Asides this report by the Premium Times claiming 30,000 Nigerians making the trip to Isreal, (http://premiumtimesng.com/news/146610-president-jonathan-to-lead-30000-nigerian-christian-pilgrims-to-israel.html), no official releases follow this claim, no actual evidence validates the presidential claim to prudence and frugal leadership.

The President, with due respect, has lost the moral right to lead Nigeria in the fight against corruption. His political crooks and recent transformation agenda states otherwise, with claims “Fighting Corruption with the Rule Of Law”. The reality on ground is not only contrasting; it is in many ways dumbfounding, unethical, outrageous, ridiculous and saddening.

Sycophants, in their characteristic greed, would opine that the Jonathan administration does so much than it gets credit for. What credit do you award justifying/legalizing the loot of our system by any and every means possible? What message do we send our young people when we pardon national plunderers like Mr Alamieyesegha? What hope is there for posterity when it’s nation’s President justifies corruption and public treasure criminality? What hope does Nigeria have when our leaders never see anything wrong about this consistent loot of our public funds?

For nations whose enlightened citizens understand the import of frugal spending, open government, accountability and transparency; acts of national brigandage like this should attract the loudest ire, open criticism and retribution. Does it? Patriots must keep talking about the wrongs in the system so they do not get used to seeing it as the NORM, so they know the huge problem before their generation to solve, so they realize Nigeria is a long step from redemption if people (anyone) will keep justifying such national treasure brigandage under whatever auspices noticeable.

Religious pilgrimage funded by the government is no way to solve our woes. It is more legal ways to looting our national treasure, indeed to more plunder!

I am @seunfakze

#OurNASS: SILENT NO MORE September 22, 2013

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, MORALITY, POLITICS.
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2 comments

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In Nigeria, the tyranny of the minority, of  crass opportunists, of about 469 elite members of the National Assembly has subjected millions of Nigerians to untold hardship and suffering. Corruption is Nigeria’s greatest challenge, its cure is openness, accountability and transparency. This will be put to test starting from the 26th of September, 2013.

In 8 years, the National Assembly; with 469 members have expended N1,000,000,000,000 (N1trillion) of public funds. These funds, alarmingly, are statutory transfers: whether the nation is in trouble or not, these funds are transferred to fund the ‘operations’ of the national assembly. Our representatives have lost their moral conscience to reject in every way possible, the most criminal form of raping its citizens. At different rates from 2005 (but consistent since 2009), the National Assembly transfers N150billion to its coffers at the detriment of the welfares of over 160million citizens.

N1trillion expended on 469 people in 8 years is a rape of the Nigerian people, whose welfare and concern should be chief to elected officers. Has N1trillion being spent to benefit the populace in 8 years? The implications of N1trillion in capital expenditure in Nigeria over 8 years are wide reaching:

EMPOWERMENT:
Jobs: 100,000 jobless graduates can start their entrepreneurial outfit with N10million which ultimately has its chain of employing others within the business scope.

Farmers: young graduates can be employed from universities to revive the agricultural sector with wide ranging effect on Nigeria’s agricultural trade and export. Besides, agricultural implements and resources such as Tractors can be bought which undoubtedly have significant impact on the yield of products.

Technology Hubs: it is estimated that about N50million will run an effective hub. (20 hubs can be created from N1trillion)

HEALTH:
Medical Tourism: The Nigerian Medical Association claims that Nigeria loses about $800m to medical tourism yearly (http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/09/nigeria-loses-800m-to-medical-tourism-yearly-nma/). Imagine the economic implications for our nation if we heavily invested N1trillion in our health sector.

Hospital Equipments: Every day, across our communities, women and children are endangered constantly because of lack of access to beds, drugs, power, etc. Many of our children die heavily because of lack of access to drugs for malaria, and we have a high toll on maternal deaths because of lack of access to basic healthcare resources.

Portable Water: Houses in Nigeria run as local governments, providing their water, power, security and other public amenities required to be provided by the government. Every society deserves basic access to clean water which ultimately solves a lot of the health challenges in the nation (Typhoid, Cholera, etc)

EDUCATION
ASUU/Teachers Welfare: In Nigeria, it is the norm for ASUU to be on strike every year, making demands for its teachers’ union. At the moment, the ongoing ASUU strike has taken another toll on the educational sector, crippling academic activities in tertiary institutions since July 1st, 2013. It is easy to criminalize ASUU’s insensitivity on the future of our young people who have stayed at home this long. However, their demands are realistic: 30,000 staff members over 37 Federal Universities are asking for their N87bn promise to be met. Their total annual salary stands at N199bn. Compare that to the National Assembly’s N150bn; with just 469 members!

Out-Of-School Children: The Education For All report reveals that about 10.6 million Nigerians are out of school (of the 57 million worldwide). Providing classrooms for this children should be the utmost priority of the Nigerian government asides other incentives
Scholarships: N1trillion is enough to fund over 150,000 students in our tertiary institutions every year.

Hostels: If it takes TETFUND just N184m to construct 224 room hostels, imagine the number of hostels we can construct with N1trillion

INFRASTRUCTURE/BASIC AMENITIES
Roads: Nigeria funds the 128km Lagos-Ibadan expressway with N167bn (http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/09/infrastructure-bank-to-raise-n167bn-for-lagos-ibadan-expressway/). The implications are that about 6 of this new expressway can be constructed with the N1trillion

Bridges: A second major bridge in Nigeria (and more) can be constructed with N1trillion.

Housing: Over 500,000 Nigerians can be housed with low cost housing units as seen in Festac Town, Lagos, Nigeria

Railways: Imagine the implications of freight and transport railways across nigeria, connecting towns to local areas, and states to states. Imagine the relief on transporting products from the north to the south, as well as the implications on cost of agricultural products amongst many other things.

With great knowledges comes great responsibility. Now that you know of the diverse implications N1trillion investment in our various sectors can bring, would you join other patriots this Thursday 26th September 2013 as we demand:

- Immediate comprehensive breakdown of their budgetary allocation of N150 billion for 2013.
– an account of the N1 trillion received since 2005 before the next recess in December.
– a functional contact information – numbers, email addresses and physical addresses of their constituency offices.We demand the names of at least two contact people attached to the numbers and email addresses.
– that ALL voting records on ALL constitutional amendments.
– that the attendance list for each plenary be made public.

No leader, no government, no organized force can stand in the way of an informed demanding Citizenry.

Keeping quiet at this juncture is not tenable. Join other patriots to make your demands known.

We cannot be Silent, No More!

AFRICA: SALVAGING EDUCATION USING TECHNOLOGY September 10, 2013

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, EDUCATION.
Tags: , , ,
3 comments

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Every child, irrespective of race or religion, deserves two things — clean basic amenities and the right to good sound education. A peaceful future lies in the hands of an educated child. Despite all the advancements that the world has made, millions of children still cannot read and write. Across many states, the target of 100 percent attendance is already met or expected to be met by 2015, the latest data also shows that in 2011 there were still some 57 million children out of school. (Education for All Report). Of these 57 million children, 10.6 million are found in Nigeria, one of the sub-Saharan African nations.

Leveraging on technology to advance best practices accessible by citizens of the world is essential. Technology can facilitate individualized instruction so that each student can learn at his/her own pace. Through multimedia, videos and digital lessons; students can repeat a lesson if they had difficulty the first time or at any time as willed. With increasing technology use in education, it will be retrogressive to withhold children back. However, this must not be pursued without adequate understanding (and provisions for) other factors that may impede educational development.

The problems of emerging new education models that guarantee easy access to quality standards in learning in education are many for sub-Saharan Africa. Hence, if the rate of drop outs from schools is to be reduced substantially, there are many factors that need to be considered. A single story/approach will not suffice until a comprehensive understanding has been sought. For instance, reducing the cost to attend school as well as other basic incentives infrastructure is important to bridging the gap in some societies.

Essentially, to ensure an increased children’s access to quality primary education across sub-Saharan Africa, integrated programmes that eliminate the underlying obstacles that prevent children from going to school and learning must be worked on. Incentives such as free education (where possible), school feeding, de-worming activities, quality curriculum, literacy and numeracy through teacher training, standard classrooms, provision of water, sanitation and hygiene in schools are vital in increasing school attendance rates.

Political will: A look at sub-Saharan African countries – the Lions, will drive home the arguments. Cameroon, Senegal, Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Mauritania, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Uganda. Bedeviling corruption and bad governance plaguing most of these African nations, it is left to wonder how committed its leaders will be in pursuing sound education methods that will free its citizenry from continued ignorance and bridge the inequality gap. Sound education strengthens the fight against poverty, political instability, prejudice, injustice, socio-economic inequalities, diseases, etc. This hugely contravenes the existence and perpetration of the status quo across sub-Saharan Africa.

Investment Cost: Investment in technology will ensure that quality education is accessible across board, by citizens in local and urban centres. The cost (fixed in many cases) that will transform sub-Saharan education, which can be provided by resource wealth from sub-Saharan African nations, may not be provided. Fibre optics, provision of technological gadgets (iPad, solar paneled laptops, etc), training; — not forgetting the various complications that may arise from its usage – often time impede the possibility of a technological bridge in education. Also, many African nations are landlocked, and this may increase the investment cost across regions. However, corporate governance may help solve this challenge, provided there is strong political will to assure corporations of compliance with terms.

Private investors in education as seen all over developed nations can leverage on this opportunity. “There are three strong players with millions of students and thousands of course offerings, all for free and available to anyone in the world. Coursera, Udacity, and edX have over four million enrolled students in their Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Online education platform Fenbi.com will close around a $7 million second round in the very near future, possibly next month, said Xiang Gao, partner at IDG Capital Partners, one of the investors in the deal. Also, this year’s maiden deal saw Shanghai-based Alo7, an English online language provider aimed at teaching three to 15-year olds, close a Series C round of funding of $10 million backed by Qualcomm Ventures, United Microelectronics Corporation and Vickers Venture Partners.” (http://blogs.wsj.com/venturecapital/2013/09/05/education-is-a-hard-lesson-for-chinese-investors/)

This shows that, for a technological driven education to resound, it has to be backed with increased, aggressive and continuous funding to ensure results. Investment will guarantee accessibility across board. This way, there would not be fluctuations in content or access to educational content whenever and wherever needed.

Policy continuation: Successive governments in sub-Saharan Africa play the propaganda tool (even when needless) to demonize erstwhile administrations. Indeed, Africa is replete of abandoned projects. While an administration may sufficiently provide the political will, investment and reform that is needed to guarantee a cutting edge technological-driven educational sector, successive governments may repeal this policies and lead years of quality investments to waste. Starting a technological revolution in education is not enough, continuity through guaranteed sustainability is important.

Local challenges: There are many factors that contribute to the drop-out rates in schools across sub-saharan Africa. Understanding this local challenge is the most important factor in providing what that state “needs”. Technology may not necessarily be the topmost priority in a state’s need to increase school attendance. It could be the provision of basic infrastructure such as classrooms. Prioritizing local needs will remain an important part of advancing sound education in sub-Saharan Africa.

Usage/Teacher training: Two states in Nigeria started the revolution in education for instance; Ekiti and Osun states respectively. As surveyed, besides providing technological equipments (Solar-powered laptops in Ekiti state and Opon Imo tablet in Osun states), usage remains an important part of quality education delivery. In many quarters, teachers are not even computer literate let alone savvy enough to devolve learning tools to students. Also, many students were found to utilize these resources for perverted interests (visiting pornography sites). These are not originally intended goals of technological provisions.

Besides, it is important to guarantee children’s cyber-safety and how to keep them from making mistakes online that could have devastating effects. Today, children are increasingly becoming targets of pedophiles. Thus, children will need to be trained about basics of cyber-safety such as never giving out personal information online like a full name, address or phone number. This could be a barrier as there are hardly enough precautions to ascertain these instructions are adhered to.

Africa is at the threshold of an amazing growth opportunity; leveraging on technology for its development. China did not have this privilege. Imagine the future of Nigeria; the socio-economic implications if those 10.6 million out-of-school children are re-absorbed back into schools. If sub-Saharan Africa will take advantage of technology, by understudying the various obstacles that could prevent its usage, leveraging on it would rapidly advance the common good, improve lives, lift many out of poverty (as China did with over 500 million people in 30 years), and bridge the inequality divide. If sub-Saharan governments will utilize this opportunity remains the greatest challenge!

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